Friday, November 13, 2009
You Say You Want A Revolution...
The words of the Upanishad tell us that the presence of the Sacred within and without can `lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth, from dispair to hope, and from fear to trust, from hate to love and from war to peace.``
This week was punctuated at its midpoint by Remembrance Day celebrations. I stood with 600 of my fellow citizens at a small inner city park that was built to commemorate the Great War battle of Vimy Ridge - where my grandfather fought and was wounded. There are a couple very plain stone cenotaphs, and lots of green space, a children`s play structure, and some trees. There was a lone bugler, four soldiers at the corners of the main cenotaph, a 21 gun salute, a number of people in uniform, and lot of old men in their Legion regalia with rows of hard earned medals pinned to their chests. No bagpipes, or marching bands.
There was a simple dignity that other more elaborately produced ceremonies have lost along the way. There were tears, some fine ecumenical words from the Padre, and three wreaths laid with very little fanfare.
I hate and abhor the idea and practice of war, and yet ... someone has to stand up to the bully in the schoolyard. Someone has to defend those who cannot defend themselves. That doesn`t make it right - it might just make it necessary at times.
My cousin died in Afghanistan - Canadian Forces Fatality 88. He was a soldier by choice - because he wanted to help people have the rights, privileges and freedoms that he, as a Canadian enjoyed as his birthright - he felt a need to give back to the world for winning the birth lottery. He stepped on a land mine. A noble sacrifice - a waste of a good man`s life before he had the chance to fulfil his potential.
I hate war - and support the troops - because they are a necessary part of managing the chaos. They are that thin red line that stands between us and those who would take away our way of life, given half the chance. Given that I don`t agree with what much of our culture deems to be normal - it isn`t about losing the plasma tv and the reality shows, the fast food and the gas guzzling car. To me it about defending my freedom of choice. To worship how I choose. To love whom I please. To work in my chosen field, and to get whatever education I wish. That I have freedom to protest - to write letters to the editor - to stand in front of my provincial legislature with a sign and 100 friends and yell at my elected officals until I get their attention.
I got a new passport today. My Canadian passport has always been my most treasured possession. I joke that the Canadian govenrment takes my tax dollars without verifying my identity, but I have to prove I`m a citizen or resident to leave the country - shouldnt it be the other way around? I have voted in pretty much every election (civic - provincial - federal) since I turned 18. I believe that voting should be mandatory for all citizens - even if they spoil their ballot - they should have to show up and add their voice to the election of those who make the decisions on our behalf. No vote - no government services. write Mickey Mouse across your ballot - just show up and be a citizen. This is only one of my many revolutionary ideas. I also truly believe that the revolution starts within.
I believe that we can each stage our own revolution within our selves - our families - our communities. That we should start these revolutions - these wheels of change turning - and cast off the complacency, the apathy, the abdication of our world to the power brokers. Revolutions don`t have to be violent - they are not wars. They are both cause and effect.
Gandhi said that we should be the change we wish to see in the world. I choose to eat organic foods whenever possible. That affects everything in my world - my food budget, my shopping habits, my choice of stores (I belong to a co-op), my ability to compost, my dis-connection from food advertising that tells me what to buy ... revolutionary acts all of them.
I try to vote with my dollars with everything I buy. I am a conscientious consumer. A revolutionary act.
The revolutions I have staged within myself over the past 30 years (I`m almost 50) have had an impact on the world. I have been an agent of change amongst my friends and colleagues. I can measure my impact on the planet - reducing it year after year to the best of my ability.
What revolutions do you need to stage in your world? They do come in stages. One small change that moves you closer to your Authentic self every day. Casting off the constraints of what the advertisers tell you to do or wear or eat or drink or drive or want and finding out what moves you - what thrills you - what enhances your inner and outer landscape.
Find the lever that turns the wheel of your revolution. Change - grow - challenge yourself to see your world from that different perspective. And here`s the fun part. Your revolutionary wheel is a gear - with teeth that engage the wheels of others around you. One revolution cannot help but start another wheel turning - another revolution will happen somewhere else to someone else. Soon we have a power train driving a cultural movement - that will have a greater impact than you can even image.
I love the words from the Vedic scripture I quoted at the beginning of this post. These are the goals that my revolution would like to achieve - summed up as a better world for all - as we walk together on this fragile planet. A planet that someday might be without war. A planet where some day, when we gather in our communities on Nov. 11 and wear our red poppies and listen to the Padre talk about the meaning of sacrifice for the cause of freedom - that we will shed our tears and shake our heads that we - as a species - were ever so young and foolish that we needed to fight for peace.
And until that day - at the going down of the sun, and in the morning - we will remember them. They fought and died - were wounded in body mind and spirit to give us the gift of freedom - freedom to create our own revolutions, and to create a future history where we will study war no more.
Enjoy the day.
(this blog post was also published on redroom.com)